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A downward murder trend

Published: Jul 12, 2013

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When the current Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) administration came to power there had been four murder records in The Bahamas in five years.

Crime was an election issue in 2012. This administration pledged to do all it could to reverse the worrying trends. Last year, a year when both parties governed, the second highest murder count in The Bahamas was recorded.

So far in 2013, police are observing a downward trend regarding murders. Murders fell by 20 percent between January 1 and July 11, 2013 compared to the same period last year, according to The Nassau Guardian's records. Up to yesterday, the murder count stood at 58 compared to the 73 murders recorded up to the same point in 2012.

Minister of State for National Security Keith Bell said the drop represents the largest decrease in the murder count for the year. But, he also added that more must be done to reduce crime.

Bell thinks the decrease is the result of the police force’s increased focus on prevention rather than detection.

“So they are concentrating heavily on saturation patrols,” he said. “They are concentrating heavily on stop and searches, and they are concentrating heavily on the prolific offenders.”

The minister also thinks the increased number of criminal cases tried so far this year may be a deterrent to crime.

“You would see that there are a number of cases that would not have normally been tried,” he said. “They are now being tried.”

Assistant Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson also touted higher police visibility and public assistance as some of the reasons for the decrease in murders.

“I see the energy that police officers put out every day. Each day police officers come to work and when they leave to go on the road, they go with a purpose,” he said.

“On any given day or night, officers are interdicting criminals off the streets; they are taking firearms off the streets, and they are preventing crime by the fact that they are more visible.”

We hope this downward trend continues. We also hope police and officials at the Ministry of National Security do actually know what is working in order to reinforce those policies that reduce the murder count.

The effort to boost visible police presence in New Providence is essential. Marked police patrols are one of the greatest deterrents to crime. The lack of consistent marked patrols has been a weakness in The Bahamas for years. Sometimes you see police; sometimes you don’t. Our force has yet to master sustaining high levels of marked patrols as you see in many urban jurisdictions of the United States.

Nonetheless, the numbers indicate that we are starting to do better in some aspects of our crime problem. While police usually get most of the blame for this problem, each part of the criminal justice system must do its part to boost efficiency. This includes prosecutors working to bring forward better cases, judges running more organized and efficient courts and the prison continuing to work on rehabilitation.

And while our elected and public officials do their part to work on these issues, we must do our part as citizens by not condoning criminality in our homes and communities. Raising children with lawful values is the most useful contributor to helping to create a more peaceful Bahamas. If we all focus on this, police will have much less to do on the streets.

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Last Updated on Monday, 15 July 2013 19:50


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